Blood glucose monitoring

  • Definition

    Blood glucose monitoring refers to the ongoing measurement of blood sugar (glucose). Monitoring can be done at any time using a portable device called a glucometer.

    See also:

    • Glucose test - blood
    • Glucose test - urine
    • Glucose tolerance test

    Alternative Names

    Home glucose monitoring; Self monitoring of blood glucose

    How the test is performed

    The traditional glucose meter comes with test strips, small needles called lancets, and a logbook for recording your numbers. There are many different kinds of these meters, but they all work essentially the same way.

    A complete testing kit can be purchased from a pharmacy without a prescription. Your doctor or nurse can help you choose the equipment that's right for you, help you set it up, and teach you how to use it.

    You will prick your finger with the lancet and place a drop of blood on a special strip. This strip uses a chemical substance to determine the amount of glucose in the blood. (Newer monitors can use blood from other areas of the body besides the fingers, reducing discomfort.) The meter displays your blood sugar results as a number on a digital display.

    How to prepare for the test

    Have all test items within reach before starting -- timing is important. Clean the needle prick area with soap and water or an alcohol swab. Completely dry the skin before pricking.

    How the test will feel

    There is a sharp prick.

    Why the test is performed

    This test reveals your blood sugar level.

    If you have diabetes, you can use it to carefully monitor your blood sugar levels at home. Regularly checking your blood sugar level is one of the most important steps you can take in managing the disease. It provides your doctor with important information regarding the control of your blood sugar.

    When you keep track of your blood sugar you will:

    • Start to see patterns that will help you plan meals, activities, and what time of day to take your medications
    • Learn how certain foods affect your blood sugar levels
    • See how exercise can improve your numbers

    Testing allows you to respond quickly to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This might include diet adjustments, exercise, and insulin (as instructed by your health care provider).

    Your doctor may order a blood sugar test to screen for diabetes. For more information, see blood glucose test.